Farzana Alam Piya
In modern times, the childhood of a child can hardly be imagined without diapers. From big cities to remote areas, having no ideal alternative, disposable diapers have reached the hand of every mother. Consisting of an absorbent pad sandwiched between two sheets of non-woven fabric, disposal diapers absorb the body fluids immediately to provide a dry & comfortable feel to the baby.
The disposable diaper was first invented by Marion Donovan, a mother from Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1948. Later in 1961, Victor Mills started to manufacture Pampers in the inspiration of Donovan’s disposable diaper. With time diapers have become highly functional, and different advanced features have been introduced.
Structure of Disposal Diaper: A disposal diaper consists of 4 functional parts, shown below:
Surface Layer/Top Sheet: This is the top layer of a disposal diaper made of non-woven fabric (polypropylene). This layer touches the baby’s skin, fits comfortably with it, and quickly transfers the liquid to the secondary layer keeping the surface dry.
Absorbent Layer/Pad: Absorbent pad is the secondary layer and the core part of a disposable diaper that absorbs the liquid & retain the moisture. This layer is made of two essential elements: a hydrophilic polymer and a fibrous material such as wood pulp. This polymer works as sponges to retain even 15 times more water than its weight. It consists of acrylic acid derivatives such as sodium acrylate, potassium acrylate, or an alkyl acrylate. On the other hand, the fibrous material works to retain moisture.
Diaper Body/ Diaper Shell: The body of a disposable diaper is made of non-woven fabric sheets. These sheets are mainly made from plastic resins (such as nylon, polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene) and are assembled by chemically, mechanically or thermally interlocking the synthetic fibers. This fabric gives the diaper a comfortable shape and helps prevent leakage.
Adhesive Parts: Elastic threads, hot melt adhesives, strips of tape and other closures are the associating parts of a disposable diaper. They are attached to the body of a disposal diaper (non-woven fabric sheets) by the melt-blown process. These parts help the diaper to adjust with the body and secure the leakage.
How Diaper Works?
Fluid from the body flows on the surface layer of a diaper vertically and is directly transferred to the absorbent layer, which consists of 2 elements: Super Absorbents Polymers (SAP) & wood pulp. The hydrophilic polymer molecules resemble long chains where one portion of the chain interacts with water molecules and another portion link with polymers through cross-linking. Cross-linking a large number of polymeric chains, a gel network is formed which is water-insoluble. Still, it can absorb 15 times more water than its weight and this gel networking strength varies according to the degree of cross linking. The body fluid gets preserved in the absorbent layer and no reverse flow takes place.
Manufacturing Process :
Key Facts for Diaper production:
Fiber & Polymer Ratio: Fiber & Polymer ratio in the absorbent core of a disposable diaper is one of the key points for manufacturing disposable diapers, which ensures maximum absorbency of the diaper. This ratio should be about 75:25 to 90:10 for maximum absorbency.
Size of Polymer Particle : Size of polymer particles should be equal or around 400 microns, as polymer particles of this size work very well with the fibers to enhance the rate of fluid transformation. One the other hand, if the particles are so outside this range, it may cause gel blocking inside the diaper.
Melting Point of the Nonwoven Fabrics: Non-woven fabrics used in the disposal diaper body/shell should be of the same melting point. If materials with different melting points are used in the same diaper, it may cause few problems such as — being too soft & sticky with assembly apparatus in places (the material which melts the quickest), leaving rough surface while diaper is pulled off, may cause discomfort to the user, etc.
Leakage Proof: The alignment of the components of a disposal diaper must be carefully checked 2/3 times to ensure leakage proof diaper. Otherwise, it may result in leakage.
Absorbency Test: Absorbency test refers to the absorbency capacity of a diaper while being used. Absorbance Under Load (AUL) can be defined as the amount of 0.9% saline solution absorbed by the polymers of a diaper with pressure equivalent to 21,000 dynes, or about 0.30 lb/sq in (0.021 kg/sq cm). This test can simulate the effect of a baby sitting on a wet diaper. There are several standard testing methods to test the absorbency of a disposable diaper. The quality of a diaper is considered acceptable only if it has an absorbency of at least 24 ml/g after an hour.
Innovation – Adult Diaper:
An additional innovation of the baby diaper industry is Adult Diaper, which is getting popular day by day. This is larger size of regular diapers worn by adult people who are too old or bedridden or in wheelchairs and unable to go to washrooms independently; who have medical condition such as urinary problem, diarrhoea, dementia; who are out of reach of washrooms for a long time such as astronauts, swimmers or other sportsmen. There are various types of adult diapers: adult pulls up diapers, briefs, or pant style diapers.
Global Market Scenario:
- In 2017 the value of global baby diapers’ market was 48,121.00 Million US $, which is growing every moment due to population increasing, urbanization, raising of hygiene consciousness.
- Statistics of Grand View Research says the global baby diapers market is expected to reach 64.62 Billion US $ by 2022 with a CAGR of 6.2%.
- On the other hand, according to the report of Allied Market Research, the global market of baby diapers is expected to reach 78,420 Million US $ by 2025, with a CAGR of 6.3% from 2018 to 2025.
- Due to raw material availability and higher birth rates, Asia-Pacific can be considered as one of the most potential regions for the baby diapers industry and is projected to grow at the highest CAGR of 7.4% than other areas from 2018 to 2025.
- Pampers (Procter and Gamble- P&G) and Huggies (Kimberley-Clark, K-C) grave 80% of the global market of baby diapers. Other leading diaper brands are Unicharm Corporation, Essity Aktiebolag (publ), Hengan International Group Company Limited, Bumkins, KAO Corporation, Ontex Group NV, Domtar Corporation, First Quality Enterprises Inc. etc.
- Adult diaper’s global market size in 2018 was USD 12.62 Billion. By 2016 it is projected to reach USD 19.77 billion, with a CAGR of 7%, according to Fortune Business Insights. Key players of this industry are Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Unicharm Corporation and Attends Healthcare Products, Inc.
Bangladesh Market Scenario:
- In view of population increasing, urbanization, raising of hygiene consciousness, the demand of baby diaper in Bangladesh is only getting higher day by day.
- Bangladesh’s present market size of baby diaper is around TK 350 crore to TK 400 crore, each year growing with 20% to 30%. It may get doubled or tripled by 2025, according to statistics.
At present 60%-70% demand of baby diaper is fulfilled by local manufacturers and the rest 40%-30% is met by importers. There are currently 8 diaper manufacturing local companies in Bangladesh where leading position is held by Chu-Chu Diaper. On the other hand, among the foreign diaper brands Pampers, Huggies, MamyPoko, Molfix, etc are used mostly, which are mainly imported from India, China, Egypt & Nigeria. But people are moving towards local diapers day by day, due to higher price of imported diapers.
Conclusion: As per the global population is increasing, people are becoming more conscious about personal hygiene, and there is no classic alternative of disposable diapers, the global demand for this product can only get higher. It is high time for the investors to invest their intelligence, time & money in this profitable industry to grave the booming market.